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Newtown climate: the solution to climate change starts at home

Newtown climate

Communities all over the world are grappling with how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Here in Newtown, a new community group is thinking about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our local area as quickly as possible – and have some fun along the way.

The group, called Newtown Climate, was formed in late 2022 by a committed group of local residents who were brought together around their shared goal of a ‘fast, fair and fun’ transition to zero emissions.

The group meets every week at a cafe on King St to discuss ideas for the zero emissions transition and – more importantly – to do something about it.

On Valentine’s Day, while many people were out having romantic dinners, a dozen Newtown Climate members met up for a tour of Young Henrys algae project. Over a couple of beers Young Henrys co-founder Oscar McMahon showed the group how Young Henrys is using cutting edge technology to capture carbon dioxide produced during the brewing process and use it to grow algae, in partnership with researchers from UTS. The algae is then mixed in with grains and fed to cattle, with an added benefit of reducing the cows' methane emissions.

Newtown Climate member Eddy Blaxell said: “It’s incredible to see things like this taking place right here in the heart of our local community. Enterprising locals are working on creative solutions that could help breweries the world over become part of the solution to climate change.”

Most of the group are renters, a cohort that is often locked out of climate solutions. Newtown has one of the highest rates of renting in Australia – over 60% - and one of lowest rates of solar panel installations – under 10%. Old houses with poor insulation are hard to heat in winter or to cool in summer, driving up energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

In its submissions to local, state and national government policy processes Newtown Climate regularly calls for better solutions for renters, as well as social housing tenants. The group says everyone will benefit: cheaper bills for tenants, cleaner air for communities, and reduced climate pollution.

One of the ideas the group is most excited about is regular car-free days on King St and Enmore Rd. They would like to see these main streets opened up for pedestrians and cyclists every Sunday, based on the ciclovia model common in South America and Europe….

Newtown Climate has been working with the Committee for Sydney, a local think tank who put out a report late last year highlighting the benefits of car-free days for communities, health and climate. But they haven’t yet found support from local councils or the state government.

Amanda Dawkins, Newtown Climate member says, “I am committed to building a community within our local area that has the common purpose of making a difference in whatever way possible. It’s up to each and everyone of us as individuals to do something no matter how small.”

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